Wales face Sweden on Sunday in final warm-up fixture
JAMES Chester believes there is more to come from Wales at the forthcoming European Championship than simply qualifying for the tournament.
The Albion defender is part of a 23-man Wales squad who will head to France next week to compete in the nation’s first major tournament since 1958.
Chester was a key member of Chris Coleman’s side as they finished second only to Belgium in qualifying for the finals, creating a slice of history in the process.
But the 27-year-old insists that is not job done as far as he and his team-mates are concerned and, having secured their place at Euro 2016, Wales are not going there to merely make up the numbers.
“It is a fantastic thing to be part of this Welsh squad and have the opportunity of going to the European Championship because it’s such a long time since Wales were involved at this level of the game,” said Chester, who faces Sweden on Sunday in the nation’s final warm-up fixture.
“It’s been nearly 60 years now, which is incredible when you think of some of the players Wales have had and some of the other teams that have qualified for major finals in that period. I think we are all proud to be part of that achievement, but hopefully there’s going to be more to come when the tournament actually kicks off.
“Teams that achieve something like this, there is a danger sometimes that people around you start to talk as if just getting there is the big achievement, that just being a part of it is enough, but we don’t see it like that. We are determined to go there and make a statement. We want to give the nation something to cheer about when we play.”
Wales have been drawn in Group B alongside England, Russia and Slovakia – and duly open their tournament against the latter in Bordeaux next Saturday.
Much of the focus will be placed on Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey heading into the finals but Chester insists Wales boast strength in depth and a strong team spirit to match.
“We are all determined to try and progress as far as we can in the tournament. We have strength as a squad, we work hard for each other, everybody has a contribution to make, and as well as those two going forward, our defensive record is something we’ve been proud of in recent times, and that underlines the way we put the effort in for each other," he said.
"If we can continue that kind of form at the back, with the threats we have up front, it gives us an opportunity to make some progress in the tournament.
“We had a very good qualifying group and we can take a lot of confidence from that I think. We didn’t creep into the finals, we were always on course for qualification right from the start, so we feel we can go and take on whoever is going to face us."